December 18, 2023


President Biden said [last] Thursday he wants Israel to ‘be more careful’ to protect civilians during its fighting in Gaza… ‘I want them to be focused on how to save civilian lives. Not stop going after Hamas, but be more careful,’ Biden said…

“The New York Times reported, citing four U.S. officials, that the Biden administration has relayed that it would like to see Israel conclude its large-scale ground campaign in Gaza around the end of the year and transition to a more targeted strategy.” The Hill

“The Biden administration is [also] seeking firmer commitments from Israel that U.S.-made weapons will not get into the hands of Israeli settlers [in the West Bank] before approving licenses to sell more than 20,000 assault rifles to Israel…

“Secretary of State Antony Blinken has raised U.S. concerns about settler violence with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to the State Department. U.S. officials have not seen ‘sufficient level of actions by the government of Israel that we think hold people properly accountable,’ State Department spokesman Matt Miller said earlier this month.” Washington Post

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From the Left

The left worries about the large number of civilian deaths in Gaza, and urges the Biden Administration to call for a ceasefire.

“More than 18,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war so far, according to the Gaza Health Ministry (the number includes an unknown number of militant fighters), and almost 1.9 million civilians—80 percent of Gaza’s population—have been displaced from their homes…

“In a statement released after the meeting with [US national security adviser Jake] Sullivan, Netanyahu said that Israel will continue fighting ‘until victory and the achievement of the common goals, which are, first and foremost, the elimination of Hamas, the release of all the hostages, the dismantling of Hamas’ military capabilities, and the end of its rule in Gaza.’…

“No one, least of all Netanyahu, has explained how Israel can achieve all of those goals without killing many tens of thousands more Palestinian civilians—or how they can achieve those goals at all.”

Fred Kaplan, Slate

“[Israel] has in the past deployed precision operations, such as the 1976 Entebbe raid to free airline passengers held hostage in Uganda by Palestinian and German hijackers. The current indiscriminate killing in Gaza, in which two-thirds of the dead are women and children, bears little resemblance to surgical strikes and reveals little apparent distinction by Israel between legitimate Hamas targets and innocent civilians…

“Even if Israel succeeds in destroying Hamas, Palestinian statelessness, hopelessness and dehumanization will persist and are likely to give rise to new hostilities. Hope for change in this seemingly intractable conflict can begin when wholesale killing ends… [The] U.S. should join the world’s nations in demanding a Gaza cease-fire.”

Editorial Board, Los Angeles Times

After Hamas, Gaza will need an administrator until elections can be held and to be a part of future talks with Israel… Though Palestinians’ support for Hamas has grown, the vast majority — under bombardment and in a time of war rife with misinformation — do not believe, or are not aware, that Hamas committed atrocities against Israeli civilians. When hostilities cease and Palestinians have the opportunity to take stock of what happened, a reckoning against a Hamas leadership that brought them to destruction might occur…

“Such a reckoning is more likely if Palestinians have reason to believe in a brighter future… The United States and Arab nations should prepare now for the day — as well as the week, month, year, decade and century — after the shooting stops, laying the groundwork to restart the process of creating two states, Israel and Palestine, that are not locked in perpetual conflict.”

Editorial Board, Washington Post

From the Right

The right urges the Biden Administration to maintain support for Israel, arguing that its offensive is working.

The right urges the Biden Administration to maintain support for Israel, arguing that its offensive is working.

“Joe Biden and his administration keep pressing the Israelis to commit to a two-state solution… Gazans have fired an almost continuous volley of rockets and missiles into Israel for the last 17 years, aimed ‘indiscriminately’ (to use Biden’s term with far more accuracy) at Israeli population centers… How would a ‘state’ in Gaza look any different — other than having access to better weaponry by which to carry out Hamas’ charter agenda of conquest and genocide?…

“Right now, radical Islamic jihadists have embedded themselves in Gaza and have to be forcibly removed and destroyed, just as the US did with ISIS in Raqqa and elsewhere a few years ago… Until that happens, it’s impossible to craft any solutions to the Palestinian issue… It is as absurd to be talking about the creation of a Palestinian state in [the present] context as it would have been to suggest that we cede territory from Iraq and Syria to convince ISIS to transform into a responsible governing entity.”

Ed Morrissey, Hot Air

“If Israel simply wanted to destroy Hamas at minimal cost to its own forces, it could level Gaza by employing airstrikes without regard for the safety of noncombatants. Instead, the IDF soldiers are being killed and wounded to reduce Palestinian civilian casualties. The IDF warns Palestinian civilians which buildings and areas are about to be targeted and tells them where they can move to stay safe…

“As White House national security spokesman John Kirby noted, ‘That’s basically telegraphing your punches. There are very few modern militaries in the world that would do that. I don’t know that we would do that.’ When Biden undermines Israel with his rhetoric, he does more than insult a key ally. He makes himself a useful idiot for Hamas's global propaganda campaign…

“It would be a grievous turn of events were Israel forced into a ceasefire now… [Hamas’s] leaders are pushing daily for a ceasefire with increasingly conciliatory rhetoric. Its strongholds in Gaza are falling to IDF forces. Its tunnels are being exploded and flooded, killing concealed fighters or forcing them into the open to be taken prisoner. The noose is tightening. But the job is not yet done.”

Editorial Board, Washington Examiner

The Biden administration is getting wobbly at precisely the wrong moment, and for no discernible reason other than that a loud minority within Biden’s coalition cannot abide its association with Israel’s war. The proper response to this queasiness would be to tell the dissenters to make themselves a chamomile tea and lie down for a spell while the responsible adults in the room advance U.S. interests abroad.”

Noah Rothman, National Review

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